UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he'd 'rather be dead in a ditch' than delay Brexit

Johnson's brother, Jo Johnson, resigned from Parliament on Wednesday.

September 5, 2019, 2:18 PM

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose younger brother resigned from Parliament on Wednesday over the issue of leaving the EU, said he'd "rather be dead in a ditch" than go to ask Brussels for a delay to Brexit.

Johnson was asked by a reporter if he could promise not to delay Brexit after making a speech in front of police recruits in West Yorkshire.

"Yes, I can. I'd rather be dead in a ditch," Johnson said.

When asked if he would resign rather than delay, he declined to answer, but said a delay would be "totally pointless."

Pressure continues to build on Johnson after his younger brother, Jo Johnson, spectacularly resigned from Parliament.

Jo Johnson, 47, was appointed to the prime minister's cabinet as Minister of State for Universities when he assumed office in July. He has now become the latest high-profile lawmaker to abandon his brother's administration over his handling of Brexit.

Jo Johnson said he was forced to choose between family and national loyalties, but ultimately the national interest won out.

"It’s been an honour to represent Orpington for 9 years & to serve as a minister under three PMs," Jo Johnson said in a tweet. "In recent weeks I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest - it’s an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles as MP & Minister. #overandout."

The decision to leave the government has plunged Boris Johnson's administration into further uncertainty after a series of stinging defeats in Parliament. Opponents of Boris Johnson have united in recent days, claiming that his plans for a no-deal Brexit would crash the U.K. economy.

The prime minister had promised to leave the EU with or without a deal by Oct. 31, but British lawmakers voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit, which could force Johnson to go back to EU leaders and ask for a humiliating extension.

In response, Boris Johnson, 55, called for a general election, which was rejected Wednesday evening by lawmakers. That decision leaves the current administration in a position of political paralysis.

That was the third defeat for Johnson's embattled government in as many days. Boris Johnson also expelled several members of his own Conservative Party who voted against him on Wednesday. The political turmoil saw 21 Conservative members of Parliament expelled from the party, including Sir Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Britain’s World War II leader Winston Churchill. The turmoil has left the government without a majority to effectively govern.

The family fallout is reminiscent of a previous brotherly dispute in U.K. politics, when lawmaker Ed Miliband was accused of stabbing his brother David in the back to become Labour Party leader in 2010.

Brexit had been the former Prime Minister Theresa May's undoing, as she resigned after being compelled by lawmakers to extend the previous deadline of March 31.

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